Chicago Tribune

Self-serving mischief

Another day, another stunt from a governor who looks as though he's already playing to the jury pool. Rod Blagojevich, health care populist and man of many alleged crimes, is now Rod Blagojevich, would-be shepherd and protector of what was the only Senate seat held by a black.

Sens. Harry Reid and Dick Durbin are right, though. Seating the nominee of an allegedly corrupt governor would be folly. If Roland Burris wants to succeed Barack Obama, we wish him well in the special election that the Illinois General Assembly needs to schedule without further delay.

The more that politicians connive to exploit the Obama vacancy, the more obvious it is that no one but the voters of Illinois should fill it. The fiction that the republic will collapse if a state that boasts a president doesn't have two senators as well is ridiculous. We'll have two senators when state legislative leaders quit maneuvering to keep the second seat Democratic and let the people vote.

For all concerned, Tuesday was a teaching moment — or rather, a learning moment:

Legislators learned that the sooner they impeach and remove the governor, the sooner he'll lose his ability to inflict his self-serving mischief on the citizens. The more his stature shrinks, the more desperate he is to be something other than a punch line. Why let him?

Burris learned that undoing a lifetime of public respect can take less than a day. He has taken full partnership in the governor's delusions — and also added an undistinguished chapter to his biography.

Reid and Durbin learned that a rogue Democratic governor will force Senate Democrats to publicly reject a black nominee — if engineering that rejection serves the governor's purposes.

Ed Genson, who had assured Illinoisans that Blagojevich wouldn't try to fill the Senate seat while under a criminal cloud, learned that a client with zero credibility can render his own attorney just as unreliable.

Barack Obama learned … Nah, there's not much in this embarrassing episode that Obama didn't already know about political charlatans of this state.

The people of Illinois? They learned how foolish their state lawmakers are for not even trying to strip the governor of his power to fill a Senate vacancy. Legislative leaders scheming to keep the seat Democratic didn't want to risk losing it, so they didn't even try to schedule a special election to replace Obama. Blagojevich, who said he supported an election, on Tuesday turned that failure of Democratic leaders in Springfield against them: Because they didn't move an election bill, he … had no choice but to fill the seat.

Legislators, take this task of filling vacancies out of politicians' hands and let the people vote. Schedule this special election now.

If Blagojevich vetoes your election bill before you oust him, fine. Pass it again. This can be the first law signed by Gov. Pat Quinn.

Self-serving mischief 12/31/08 [Last modified: Thursday, January 1, 2009 11:47pm]

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